Monday, May 18, 2015

Question Dulled Shoppers

“A RIMtailing post that will improve your retail profitability?”
     What are the circumstances under which my putting a question mark at the end of that sentence lends persuasiveness? On the other hand, consider the circumstances in which it would be better for me to make my point by using a period, as in, “A RIMtailing post that will improve your retail profitability.”
     Researchers at Boston College say it has to do with shopper arousal.
     For a field study in a supermarket, at certain times the background music was a highly stimulating Felix Mendelssohn composition, and at the other times, the music might legitimately be called a sedate Felix Mendelssohn piece. In the produce section, the researchers had positioned an electronic sign. The sign display was switched between reading “Berries?” and reading “Berries.” The sales of strawberry boxes were tracked.
     Of the people shopping in the presence of the highly stimulating music, 31% bought the berries after seeing the question mark signage, compared to 58% who made the purchase after seeing the signage with the period. Of the people shopping in the presence of the low-stimulation music, 56% bought the berries after exposure to the question mark, while 38% did after exposure to the period. On balance, shoppers aroused by the music were moved to buy by the period, and shoppers dulled by the music were stimulated to purchase by the question mark.
     The researchers attribute these findings to an evolutionary predisposition. Our brains drive us to be curious when we’re feeling safe from intrusion, and questions trigger curiosity. When we’re highly aroused, our brains prefer the certainty of statements.
     Rhetorical questions lie between statements and standard questions. These are generally yes/no question to which the answer is felt to be so obvious that no reply is necessary. Examples include “Wouldn’t it be fun to have this couch in your living room by tonight?,” and “Do you want to miss this wonderful opportunity?” Researchers at University of Minnesota and Ohio State University find that rhetorical questions work only with customers who are already feeling favorable toward making the purchase.
     When nagging doubts remain with shoppers, rhetorical questions make them feel boxed in. There’s a high risk they’ll conclude that you are trying to manipulate them, and they will want to escape from the purchase. You'll lose the sale.

For your profitability: Sell Well: What Really Moves Your Shoppers

Click below for more: 
Use Closed-Ended Questions Selectively
Evolve the Most Basic Sales Pitches of All
Remember to Consider Rhetorical Questions
React When Faced with Reactance

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